4 Things I Miss From the Old Codex Chaos Space Marines for Warhammer 40.000

Warhammer 40K Codex Chaos Space Marines

There are few Warhammer 40K Codexes as maligned by fans as the 4th Edition Chaos Space Marines Codex by Gav Thorpe and Alessio Cavatore. At the risk of you never returning to read my blog, I have to admit enjoyed the book. Most of the flak it got was perhaps deserved, but it was better than its reputation. Here are 4 things I liked about it, which, to my regret, did not make it into the 6th Edition Codex Chaos Space Marines.

1. Doombreed

Khorne was the first of the Great Gods of Chaos to awake fully, and Doombreed was one of the first of his servants. His true name has long been forgotten, …

– Codex Chaos Space Marines 4th Edition, p. 32 

Doombreed is a Daemon Prince of Khorne. He has also been a staple of Chaos Space Marines since their first outing in 40K 2nd Edition and the Liber Chaotica: Khorne, which describes him as “older and more powerful than even the mighty Daemon Primarchs“.Khorne Daemon Prince

Daemon Prince by Andrea Bracale

If you have not heard of Doombreed, his origins hark back to the dawn of humanity. He is said to have been among the first humans ever elevated to the status of a Daemon Prince. More intriguingly (and why he is listed here), Doombreed was present at the conclusion of the Horus Heresy, at the Siege of Terra, in the very same battle-barge, where the Emperor and Horus fought their final duel.

Why do I miss him? For some reason I always thought there was “more” coming. That there was some mystery yet to be revealed. A Daemon Prince this old and powerful, who was also present at the perhaps most iconic event in 40K history, he must have some relevance, soon to be revealed as Games Workshop forges ahead in the Horus Heresy.

Seems like they just dropped him instead. A pity.

2. Paint Schemes for Chaos Space Marines

A second later, an invisible wave of psychosonic energy ripped through the scattering Space Marines, kicking up a wave of grit and rocks, splitting armour and bursting internal organs. Those loyalists that still lived flopped to the rocky dirt like grounded fish, wracked with brain-damaged spasms.

– Codex Chaos Space Marines 4th Edition, p. 45

The new 6th Edition Codex for Chaos Space Marines is beautiful book. No doubt about it. Full colour. Hard-cover. Lots of art. But it is more itself a work of art, than a guide for the reader to unleash his inner artist and make a fine Chaos Space Marines army.

For the latter, I always loved the colour scheme examples that filled the old codex. They didn’t show off GW’s skills in painting miniatures and digital art. But they made you wonder, think what an army with this scheme or that scheme would look on the table.Chaos Space Marines Sample Schemes

Paint Schemes from the 4th Edition Codex

Things like this, which seek to inspire the reader, not awe him, are scarce in the new book.

3. Lash and Blast (Unit Synergies)

I murdered thousands for the Emperor and he gave me nothing except his damning silence. Now his lapdogs yap for every life I take, while the gods promise me the galaxy.

– Codex Chaos Space Marines 4th Edition

I always greatly enjoyed Lash of Submission, especially in combination with blast weapons offered by units like Obliterators or Defilers. It is one of those “universally hated” game-moves, which won the 4th Edition Chaos Space Marines Codex so much hatred.

Maybe there are good reasons for that. Lash of Submission might have been a tad too powerful for its time. It might also have crossed an invisible boundary for some players, who resented a rule that was seen to invite (potentially unwashed) opponents to touch and move your miniatures.  Though I always loved to shout “Come Here!!” doing it.Lash of Submission Come Here!

Come Here!!!

More important, however, it did one major thing right. Lash and Blast was a move that required players to take two decidedly different units and combine their abilities for results that were more powerful than the simple sum of those two units. It was the anti-thesis of “spam”, where a single effective attribute is multiplied within an army as often as possible.

Lash and Blast also was fun to play. Not (only) because it was effective, but because it gave me (if successful) that special feeling of having “achieved” something tactically, something over and beyond the rolling of the dice.

In my humble opinion, Warhammer 40.000 the game could use a bit more of that.

4. Wolf of Fenris

Then without warning, several of the Space Wolves turned on their brethren, attacking them from behind before surrendering to the mercy of the Blood Reaver. They recanted their oaths to the Space Wolves, Leman Russ and the Emperor, and swore new pledges of loyalty to Huron.

– Codex Chaos Space Marines 4th Edition, p. 59

The Wolf of Fenris is a two-page story towards the end of the old Codex. It details how the Red Corsairs, led by Huron Blackheart, attack and board the Space Wolves strike cruiser “The Wolf of Fenris”. The turning point where things go Huron’s way come when some of the Space Wolves turn on their battle brothers and join in with the Red Corsairs.Warhammer 40K The Wolf of Fenris

Attack on the Wolf of Fenris

I miss this story. Everytime I say that, people tell me I must hate Space Wolves. I don’t.

But I think it is a rare story that showcases the underlying threat of Chaos among the ranks of the Imperial Defenders. And, for some reason, there seems to be very little of that in the background.

Virtually all Space Marines Chapters that go renegade, starting with the Traitor Legions and all the way down the Astral Claws, seem to have it coming, no matter what happens. They strike me as being written, from the start, to be the guys that will turn to Chaos.

Inversely, almost all loyal Chapters in the background are so valiant, staunch and pure, that corruption seems not to be a major problem for them. This strikes me as contradictory, given how much emphasis – in general terms – the setting places on the ever-present threat of Chaos corruption, including Chaplains, the Inquisition, etc., etc.. .

Which is why I love this story. It has some of the “good guys” – Space Wolves – fall to Chaos. It makes the threat of corruption seem real. It makes the constant battle waged by the loyalist Space Marines truly a spiritual one, as well as a physical one, because some of them fail it in spirit just as others fail it in the flesh as they die on the battle field. In short: it makes Chaos a more scary enemy.

My thoughts on that.

The article is not meant to bash the new Chaos Space Marines Codex. I might have to write a “4 things I like about the new Codex” at some point.

Are there things you are nostalgic about, things miss from the old book? Or are you all around happy that it is history?